After a nearly five-year absence of fielding a baseball team, basically in a rebuilding mode this spring, Sunnyside Christian is showing signs of putting it all together.
The 1B Knights hosted the 1A Connell junior varsity Tuesday afternoon, and nearly pulled off a doubleheader sweep of the Eagles.
Behind a complete game pitching performance by Wyatt Hoff, making his third start of the season, the Knights rang up Connell, 12-7, in yesterday's opener.
Sunnyside Christian almost made it 2-for-2, but in the nightcap came up a hair short to the Eagles, 10-8.
In winning the opening game, Hoff was a workhorse for the Knights atop the mound. He scattered five hits and set down nine Connell batters on strikes.
"Wyatt is a competitor," said SCHS Coach Tyler Alseth.
"He's developed a good change-up and was using it quite a bit yesterday," Alseth said. That pitch was working so well that Hoff at one point retired 13 consecutive hitters.
Hoff (1-2) began tiring in the sixth, issuing three walks that frame, but Alseth decided to stick with his hurler. "I thought it should be his game to win or lose," Alseth said.
Sunnyside Christian struck quickly in game one after giving up a two-spot to Connell in the top of the first. The Knights plated four runs in their home half of the first to take the lead for good.
The first inning rally was started by, who else, the pitcher Hoff. Aiding his own cause, he punched a double, then manufactured the first run of the inning by advancing home on two passed balls. Brant Bosma was next up at the dish and he drew a walk and promptly stole second. Drew Puterbaugh followed by lacing an RBI single, then using his speed stole second and third. Puterbaugh got thrown out at home on a squeeze bunt off the bat of Matt Moore, but back-to-back, run scoring singles by Brandon Broersma and C.J. Dalrymple brought in the third and fourth runs of the frame.
Sunnyside Christian, after forging a 9-3 lead through five and a half innings, applied the icing to the cake with a three-run uprising in the bottom of the sixth. Moore and Alex Brouwer had singles in the rally. Paired with a couple of walks, Billy Van Wingerden came through with a nifty piece of situational hitting by slapping a shot to the right side of the infield, which plated a run.
For the game, Brouwer and Puterbaugh each went 2-for-4 for the winners, and Dalrymple drove in two runs on a 1-for-2 effort at the plate.
Connell jumped all over starting pitcher Brant Bosma in the twin bill finale, coming through with four hits and two walks off the hurler, and in the process sent six runners across the plate in the opening inning.
The Knights fought back, though, scoring five runs of their own in the bottom of the second. After Jackson Haak was plunked with a pitch, Broersma, Moore and John Newhouse all singled. The big hit, however, was a ringing two-run triple to right-center field off the bat of Brouwer.
Connell hung on for the 10-8 win, though, outscoring the Knights by a 4-3 margin the rest of the way.
Haak was the lone Knight to have a multi-hit game in the nightcap, going 2-for-3.
Sunnyside Christian (2-5) opens Greater Columbia 1B League play at home this coming Saturday against Lyle-Wishram. The doubleheader is slated to begin at 11 a.m.